Mary Adeline Beman, 23
- Sarah Alley, 23
Joseph Bates Noble and Mary Adeline Beman were civilly married in Kirtland, Ohio in 1834. They had met a few years earlier at about the time Joseph became a member of the church. According to family lore, Mary was not baptized until later, despite her close relationship to the Joseph Smith family and having provided her husband Joseph with the copy of the Book of Mormon that persuaded him to join the church. With their three children, the couple moved to Missouri and afterwards, with Mary’s sister Louisa Beman, the Nobles settled on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River across from Nauvoo. There they were among the few Saints to whom Joseph Smith taught plural marriage in 1840. In April 1841, Joseph Noble sealed his sister-in-law Louisa to Joseph Smith. Two years later, the Noble’s own marriage would become polygamous when he was sealed for eternity to Sarah Alley and Mary Ann Washburn in 1843.
Born in eastern Massachusetts, Sarah Alley was the only member of her family to join the church. Possibly converted in the early 1840s, she is known to be living in Nauvoo by early 1843. She and Joseph had one biological child together and adopted another. Sarah died in 1847 in Winter Quarters. Mary Ann Washburn’s family likely joined the church some time between 1840 and 1842, when they arrived in Nauvoo. She travelled west in a different company than the Nobles. She and Joseph had five children together, but later separated. In 1857, she became the plural wife of Edwin Whiting, twenty years her senior and with whom she had two children.
Before he died in 1900, Joseph was sealed to eight more women, two of whom divorced him. Mary Adeline died in Salt Lake City in 1851, not long after the family arrived in the valley. Sarah Alley died three months later. In 1856, Mary Ann took her one surviving child and moved in with her parents, making Noble monogamous again. His biographer summarizes Joseph’s shifting marital status: “He spent sixty-six of his ninety years married, forty-seven of them with a single spouse. These forty-seven years of monogamy were with four different women because of death and divorce. He lived in polygamous relationship with as many as four women during the other nineteen years of his married life.” (Clark 150)
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74, 16–18.
Clark, David L. Joseph Bates Noble: Polygamy and the Temple Lot Case, (Univ. Utah, 2009).
“Joseph Bates Noble (9JTR-P86),” FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/
“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Fifth Meeting of the Female Relief Society,” Minutes of the Female Relief Society, entry for April 19, 1842. https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/part-1/1-2/1-2-6. Accessed 6 Aug 2020.
Noble, Joseph Bates. Autobiography of Joseph Bates Noble. http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/JBNoble.html. Accessed 6 Aug 2020.
“Noble, Joseph Bates,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/joseph-bates-noble
Noble, Mary A. Autobiography. http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/MNoble.html. Accessed 6 Aug 2020.